Thursday, August 11, 2011

Eat Right 4 Your Type

What does blood type have to do with your digestion? Quite a bit, as it turns out, according to Dr. Peter D'Adamo, author of "Eat Right 4 Your Type."

I have been fascinated with food and physiology since nurse's training in the late 60s, and this book was a welcome eye-opener for me. It cleared up questions that had stymied me for a very long time.

For example, I had long been puzzled by my observation that some people are happy and healthy eating a certain way, but when other people follow the same diet, they gain weight and feel lousy. If there is such a thing as an ideal, balanced diet, along the lines of the "food pyramid," why don't we all respond in the same way to what we eat?

From my personal experience, I know that after 3 days of following a vegetarian diet, I have no energy. It doesn't matter what plant proteins I try or in what combinations, I barely have the strength to lift a piece of paper. But for some reason, as soon as I eat a hamburger, I feel great. I apparently have a politically incorrect metabolism.

However, according to Dr. D'Adamo, the key to healthy metabolism lies not in our ideology but in our blood type. From the research he and his father have done, there appears to be a direct correlation between blood type and digestion. Here's how it all breaks down (sorry, pun intended):

Type O Blood. The is the oldest blood type, the blood type of the earliest hunter-gatherer humans. Their diet was primarily animal protein and fat, with small amounts of carbohydrates. This diet provided the huge amounts of energy needed to survive harsh conditions. Type Os, like me, retain those ancient metabolic characteristics. (Which solves the hamburger mystery.) Grains and dairy, which were not part of the early human diet, are not well tolerated by our systems.

Type A Blood. Thousands of years later, humans began to settle down, create permanent communities and cultivate crops. This is when people began eating grains. With this addition to the diet, human metabolism began to adapt, and a new blood type, Type A, began to appear. People with Type A blood do very well on a diet of grains, vegetable proteins and carbohydrates. Meat and dairy products are not very well tolerated by Type As.

Type B Blood. Further along the evolutionary trail, humans began to domesticate animals and added dairy products to their diet. And again, blood type adapted. Type Bs have many more choices for dinner because they can enjoy a range of meats, dairy, vegetables and certain grains.

Type AB Blood. This is the newest, and rarest, blood type. It is also the most idiosyncratic, combining characteristics of A and B, plus a few of its own eccentricities.

Beyond these explanations, "Eat Right 4 Your Type" gives detailed lists of foods, seasonings and beverages for each blood type - according to which are most beneficial, which are neutral and which to avoid. There are also a few recipes in this book to get you started should you choose to try "eating right for your type."

It has been several years since I first read this book and tried eating this way. I always feel better when I follow his guidelines and avoid grains (especially any containing gluten) and dairy. I have lots of books on nutrition and cooking - this is one I come back to over and over again for good information.

Related post: Spaghetti Squash and the Blood Type Diet